Pros and Cons in Group Rides
You got an itch for adventure and you've acquired a new bike--or maybe just finished or fixed that project or broken one finally. You hit up your friends and start looking up bike events to show off, meet new and old friends, and just to have some plain 'ol fun...
The bug for motorcycles is a serious disease. It takes a hit on your social life, your time, and your money. Not in a negative way necessarily--just that's what it does. Some of you maybe be casual riders and some make it their life.
Me? It's sort of my thing but for having great people in my life, creative tinkering, and for flexibility in movement (city parking, EAT IT CARS).
At first I was all guns a blazing about going riding with every person at every single thing everywhere all the time all day every day. Still am to a degree--toned that shit down with being reasonable.
What I'm going with all this is that you learn what you like by doing it. And this is what I've learned:
I like riding alone, with a partner, or small groups of seven or less. Large groups can be fun or not fun....
Riding alone is great. You don't have to be responsible for anyone else. You just do things when you feel like it as fast or as slow or as safe or wild as you want. But it does get lonely sometimes--especially if you don't like getting lost and finding new places on your own.
Me and You
Riding with a partner--one of my favorites. Just you and a friend versus the world. Although, it does change how you ride. You each have to accommodate for each other's space, safety, and comfort level. Your experiences and bikes capabilities can differ.
Oh yeah, trust. There are some people you just ride with that you have a better cohesion with than others. I ride really well with my friends Brett and Armi (individually). Although Armi's Monster 696 bites my Ninja 250 in the dust--but we can ride and communicate without talking. That makes a world of a difference. Yeah, I know. I get on it with getting a bigger bike. I'll write about that another time.
Five Tiny Lion Bots Forming One Large Lion Bot. Or something.
Riding in a small group. I consider ten or less to be a small group. Even ten can be a bit much. Six or seven is probably my favorite amount of riders. Communication is such a big deal in riding with others. Direction and safety has to be accommodated for all riders, making it a stressful task for leading riders.
Bad communication or a lost of communication can make for lost riders and unsafe situations. The game of catch up is never a fun thing especially if you don't know where you're going. Again, the experience and bikes can vary across the board. But this is my favorite kind of group ride where I can ride a bit more casually and have fun. I liked these groups best with good friends going on trips to do some rad thing like going to Brooklyn for the Motorcycle Film Festival.
Runs. Rides. Rallies. Ride Outs. Or whatever.
I've been on several large group rides of 30+ riders. I've met a lot of good people and have had some fun with every one of them. But not without challenges.
Communication and keeping track of everyone in a group of seven is pretty okay. There's always one person who is a bit slower--usually me, no lie. But in a group of 30 or more people with different bikes. Yikes.
If you ride in a club or group that you have been riding with for a while, that communication gap is less of a concern. But when it's like the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride that happens once a year with complete strangers on a route you didn't personally put together yourself. Daunting much?
Not only should you be riding with your A-game skills and attentiveness but you have to trust everyone else around you that they're doing the same. I mean, they could've just learned how to ride yesterday or not even have their license.
All the bikes varies in sizes, so the group generally splits into two or three mini groups with the front group being the lead and the fastest and the last group being the slowest. A well organized ride will have leading riders in each group with a knowledge of the route and stops.
But even as an experienced leading rider, you don't know what experience the riders behind you have. They may not have experienced certain situations that they may get into. I find that there are a lot more accidents in large group rides than anything else. Lucky ones have small incidents like dropping a bike and some really unfortunate ones.
The first large group ride I went on, four incidents-two crashes, one bike stuck in the mud, I dropped my bike in the confusion of stopping at the sight of other bikes suddenly stopped after coming around from a bend. Also the groups kept splitting up because the variation of bikes and experience.
My second large ride was okay, just some lost stranglers.
Third large ride ended with someone sliding on water and rear ending another person in front.
Fourth one ended with a lot of weird incidents but to be honest we were all hooligans. One person broke their finger. I fell over because the person in front fell over because the person in front slammed on their brakes. I think at one point, we lost a rider whose bike stopped working--I wonder if it was the bike that lost its wheel bearings that went flying at me. You can imagine my confusion there.
Yes. They're super fun and super cool. Going on a rad ride to meet new people, seeing new and different bikes and maybe even for a cause. But you better be ready to respond in whatever situation that may happen is all I'm saying.
We all have different reasons for riding. Maybe no reason at all. But there's nothing wrong with some classic lone wolf riding or whatever you like. Just know what you're capable of and be safe.
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